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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Behold!

Have you looked at yourself today?
Did you smile?

At 6 a.m. this morning, I passed my 14-year-old daughter in the bathroom. I noticed the austere look on her face as she spread mascara on her already thick long eyelashes. I wanted to chide her to smile a little, ease up on her self for crying out loud, it is only six a.m. and can’t you be shining a little light on yourself today?
But, it was six a.m. and I was not yet up to being parental.

Then, later, I read Berry Liberman’s post on Dumbo Feather, a really fine online magazine from Australia. Berry interviewed Brene’ Brown for that publication. Readers of the Laundry Line may recall Brene’s TEDx talk on shame that I posted a few months ago.

Berry wrote in her post titled “The Scars We Live With and Gratitude” about her own self-image and the scepter of age making marks on her body, breast, eyes, and her waist. About plastic surgery Berry wrote:

There’s something we forget when we try and erase the years and the scars. We forget they are the markers of a life lived, of things learned, of love given and received, of loss, of laughter. How can I say to Willow that she’s enough if I don’t believe that I am? She’ll know I’m a fraud and most likely will feel that putting herself under general anaesthetic and letting someone put a knife to her face and body is quite normal. Necessary in fact.

I keep thinking about what I model for my daughter every day. Do I scowl at myself even before the sun rises? Do my upper arms or eyelids have the first say in whether what I see is beautiful or not?

Tomorrow morning, I will fly to Chicago to meet my sister Becky. We look in to each other’s eyes and see familiar lines, familiar traces of time around our smiles. Our voices lift and fall the same way. We both color our hair, but otherwise, our bodies are the reflection of time as it has made its mark on us. I will look at her and see family traits that I cherish in her, but on any given day I’d critique in myself. Here we are with our bright shiny youngest sister Elsa between us.

I was moved to tears when I saw this movie by Julia Warr of Brooklyn, NY this week. It has stayed with me and penetrates this discussion beyond any words I have about aging. This ode to her friend Maia holds a standard of self-cherishing and grace that I aspire to.

You will hear from women of every age here this winter on the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series. Today, Kelly DiNorcia’s post about her life as a writer with her son and daughter sheds light on her perception of her value and creativity as it has changed since becoming a mother.

Life is like that. It makes its mark on you. Passion shapes us; time carves experience in to us. My body is as full of stories as my imagination. I desire to celebrate those stories, share the ones that cause my heart to race and step in to loving my body, every mark.

Chicago holds the funeral of my dear Uncle Jim. Close readers will remember him as a commenter here on Laundry Line Divine. When I sat with Uncle Jim during the days after my Mom, his sister-in-law, died, I saw my eyes in his. I saw the way our upper eyelids are shaped around our eyes. I saw his eyebrows lift in gestures I myself make. I am sure Uncle Jim was capable of Catherine’s scowl, but of the time I have seen him in my life, he was smiling or pondering a question with a knit of his eyebrows that drew the together in the center and up on the ends. His voice held all the timbre and lilt of the Banks side of sound for me. I will miss it every day. Here is what he said in response to one of my posts about my Mom’s passing:

‘How many heartbeats in a minute, in a day, in a month, in a year? Each one is a goodbye.’

Mom listening to her Uncle Jim Banks with Grandpa  by CBB

This is me listening to Uncle Jim with my step-Dad.

Please enjoy Kelly’s post.
Please wink at yourself in the mirror.
Consider gratitude, as Berry does, for your one fine body.
And, as Maia does in Julia’s beautiful film, move in your own beautiful grace.

All my love,
S